FORMER Octopus Property real estate specialist Paul Watson (pictured) has joined peer-to-peer property lender Blend Network.
He takes on the role of head of origination, aiming to grow the firm’s new borrowers and boosting due diligence and customer service.
Watson was previously senior development finance originator at Octopus Property, where he sourced and executed development finance projects in residential, mixed-use, and student accommodation schemes. He has held previous roles at Churchmanor Estates, Royal Bank of Scotland and Jones Lang LaSalle.
The appointment comes as Blend has just completed a £10m funding round which attracted investment from prominent businesspeople including Cyrus Ardalan, chairman of Citigroup Global Markets, Publicis Group chairman Maurice Levy, and Jean-Phillipe Blochet, co-founder of Brevan Howard.
Read more: Blend Network secures £10m of seed funding
Blend Network allows customers to invest in property-secured loans. It says private lenders are able to co-invest from £1,000 with very sophisticated high-net-worth lenders in the same deal, which it claims is increasing the ‘democratisation’ of investing. Blend Network has lent £5m to 20 projects across Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North of England, with an average annual fixed return of 12 per cent.
This year it plans to continue growing its team, developing new features for the platform and increasing its range of borrowers and lenders.
“We are delighted to welcome such an experienced property professional as Paul to our growing senior team,” said Yann Murciano, founder and chief executive.
“He has a breadth and depth of experience across real estate sectors as well as extensive regional expertise, which will significantly help us scale the business. His appointment will help accelerate our acquisition of new borrowers as well as enhance our capabilities to service both existing borrowers and lenders on the platform.”